What do you mean by Leadership Skills – Sharpening the Saw? Do you observe that some of the tasks or work that you do takes a long time? But with your surprise, you see someone else complete the same task faster than you! How the other person completes the task in less time? What is the magic there? We all know that every work that we perform, there is a learning curve. This means it takes some time to learn the work, then gradually we start becoming proficient and then master of that work/task. Once we become master of the task/job/skill, what happens then? We often become complacent. We start feeling; I know everything about this skill/job/technology! Here the problem starts! We forget that there is no end to learn, no end to read; there is no end to communicate with other experts and get the best practices they follow. If we do not sharpen our knowledge, if we do not keep ourselves up to date, our position, our skill, our expertise will start breaking down, then one beautiful morning, we shall found, the person, once known as God if a skill is now outdated! We have not heard the word “Sharpening the Saw,” but if I say “continuous Improvement,” all of you would jump up and say – oh yes, this is a known term, and we all know about it!
So, how do we sharpen our saw? We need to continue learning; there is no end to learn something new skill or a new concept of the same skill. Think of a very senior executive of a company. He has been following the first six habits for years, and today he is considered as Leader. He had earned respect, position, money, everything that he had dreamed of. Once he has reached there, he feels great, and in his mind, one complex came and started residing! The name of the complex is “I know everything. There is no one to beat me in my organization and even in my industry. I am indispensable.” It continued for a few years, but suddenly, he found that people are not respecting him anymore! One of his juniors is drawing all the limelight and everyone in the organization praising him.
The first thing that came to his mind is – the other guy is a young chap, and he has an excellent appearance. He always tries to please his seniors (which he had seen when the other person was working under him a long time ago). Like every human, he tried to find someone else to blame for his loss of position. But, remember, he has learned and practiced all six habits. So, he started introspecting – what went wrong? He found that – he was overconfident and complacent and stopped learning, stopped developing himself. He forgot to sharpen his saw, and that is the result someone else with a sharper saw started cutting the trees faster than he was!
So, what we saw is – this is like a cycle. We learned the first six habits, and then we became overconfident, stopped our self-development, and then we fall from the top. Since we have learned and practiced the first six habits, we should be able to go back to the drawing board and identify where we went wrong and rectify that section. If required, re-do the first six habits once again. Even if we had not learned the first six habits and found that we need to sharpen our saw! In simple words, we must work to improve our skills continuously!
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